Sunday, August 30, 2015

We're back,

photos, mystical rantings and a report coming soon...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015


A motorcyclist worthy of the name does not ride these things for the creature comforts. You're exposed to the elements, there is usually little storage and, especially on classic bikes, there aren't any gadgets to keep you company, no cup holders, climate control, clock, radio, etc.

(In fairness, the Norton Commando Interstate had an electrical socket to power a shaver, radio or inspection light. And some of the older Triumphs came with a removable inspection light hidden in the fuel tank panel, very cool)

The engineers at BMW must have thought that something more was in order. A clock was available as an optional gauge, we have it and it is very handy; and an electrical socket was fitted under the right-hand side panel, as a means to power anything you wanted provided you wired it to the correct DIN/Hella plug.

We have an extra one of these sockets mounted on the handlebar of our GS, to power a GPS navigator, and now, thanks to this nifty adapter (in the cardboard box, on the right), I have two usb ports that I can use to charge my smartphone and my GoPro camera. What luxury!

In the cardboard box, on the left, you can see another twin usb socket set, that one will go on the Honda as soon as I have the time.

For more, see

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Of gold, a bar.

I bought a universal braced handlebar and had it re-sprayed gold by a professional bodyshop: the finish is phenomenally good:

The idea for this is to go on the Honda; I'm still very conflicted over what to do with that bike, keep it as is, or tear into it and modify it...
Either way, I think this will look great.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"What exactly are you doing?"

A valid question that has come up during my recent fettling of my Commando, and although it is one for which I can provide an answer, that in and of itself doesn't rule out the possibility that I may, in fact, be quite mad.

It was not a restoration: that was done some years ago.

It was not a rebuild or a repair: technically speaking, the bike was running (albeit not well) before I tore into it to replace the cylinders and the head last year.

It was a redux: that is to say, a reinterpretation of my motorcycle to turn it into what I wanted it to be like.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the deeper I delved, the more things I found that I would like to address, for example the Vernier-type Isolastic conversion that I fitted during the initial restoration, bought from Norvil at the time, which has always left me a bit skeptical. I have an idea for how to fix that without replacing the entire system, but it's a "winter months" type of job.

However, before I get to the Isolastics, there are several other things that now need attention, and I was only really able to notice them now that the engine is finally sorted out.

First and foremost, the clutch is ripe for a major upgrade. I have a few parts ready to be fitted and will get to it soon hopefully.

The bike badly needs new tires, and I'll be fitting the standard Dunlop K81 19x4.10 front and rear (as opposed to the skinnier 3.60 that was needed at the front when I had clip-ons, but which makes the bike twitchier than a junkie looking for their next fix). As Bob Trigg once said, the Commando is a hugely tire-sensitive bike, and he should know... he engineered the damn thing.

Another glaringly obvious problem is with the rear shock absorbers: despite being the stock length for a Commando, they are simply too short. The bike has this sort of squat, lowrider look to it, and while it's kinda cool, it makes the front end way too light, and way too twitchy (see above, also because of narrow front tire). I can't figure out why it's like this since all critical frame/cycle components are standard: frame, swingarm, the whole front end... The only thing I can think of is the gearbox cradle, which had to be replaced during the initial rebuild and was sourced as a non-genuine pattern part: if the swingarm mounting points are lower than they should be, then stock length shocks would end up being "too short". I'll check next time I have the Fastback next to the Interstate, but in the meantime I think I'll just send my shocks back to Asatek and get them to fit a longer damper tube and spring, and service them while they're at it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

the Campotosto Mystic Trip 2 - "Shamans of the Astral Plane"

Last year, we undertook an epic journey to the mountain lake of Campotosto, and it was so good that we decided right there and then that we wanted to go back for more because, to paraphrase Henry Beston, we need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of motocamping.

In keeping with the trippy, psychedelic vibe of our previous outing, we are planning on following a similar itinerary along uncharted psychic trails, so we have no idea where we'll end up or how long it'll take. Probably all day.

We're spending two nights this time, so we can use day 2 to go have a proper ride around the mountains, enjoy great food at the super-cozy campsite and a great night sleep in the fresh mountain air.
We're once again extending the invitation to a few select, unaffiliated, non-aligned motorcyclists; hopefully we'll put together a nice group.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why we ride.

After all is said and done, the Norton Commando is a truly remarkable machine.

It has the ability to make me think "I never want to ride any other motorcycle but this one" after just a few yards - and while there are other bikes that can elicit a similarly powerful reaction, there really isn't any other that can match it. In that respect, this motorcycle is unrivaled.

And what a beautiful motorcycle it is, if I do say so myself.